Ensuring a successful summer internship

July 30, 2012 at 9:17 am | Posted in Intern Advice | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

Your students who are doing summer internships have heard your wise advice over and over again about how to succeed. They might “hear” a fresh voice from a reputable business source. Consider forwarding the following tips by writer Trudy Steinfeld at Forbes to your students to remind them how to succeed in their internships while there is still time:

  1. Learn everything you can about your employer and the business sector in which they operate. Focus on topics such as the organization’s strategic direction, emerging growth areas, new products or clients as well as issues and trends affecting the broader industry.
  2. Always do more.  Since many organizations hire new employees from among their college interns, fight against the tendency to just do what you’ve been asked and let your employer see how much you are capable of.
  3. Find a mentor.  Even if you have been assigned a formal mentor for the summer, identify other key people who can shed light on the organization, share their career story, give you tips for how to excel in your own career, provide honest feedback and help you navigate workplace challenges.
  4. Play nice with others.  Even though you might be used to competing on a variety of levels with your peers, this summer needs to be about being viewed as a valued team member.  That means getting along well with your colleagues – at all levels in the organization. By all means, show initiative. Volunteer for assignments and work independently when the situation calls for it. Remember to always be respectful and thank others for their help. Share credit with your team members as appropriate.
  5. Be genuinely engaged with your work and show it.  Organizations want to hire staff that are interested and excited about their work and projects.  They know through both research and experience that enthusiasm is contagious and can greatly add to productivity.
  6. Deliver, deliver, deliver.  When you are given an assignment, make sure you exceed expectations and meet or beat the deadline for the project.  If you do this consistently you will demonstrate the  “wow factor” hiring managers are looking for.
  7. Ask for feedback.  Many formal internship programs have a review cycle. However if they don’t, or if it’s only scheduled to occur at the conclusion of the internship, ask for feedback along the way. Always make appropriate adjustments based on what is shared with you or the opportunity and value of the feedback is lost.
  8. Use social media for good.  Check with your supervisor to see if the company actively engages in the use of social media and what their policies are for interns and other employees. Ask if you could blog or tweet about your experience.  Make sure your posts are positive and creative and always consistent with the organization’s policies and practices.

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